Minister rules out inquiry

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Indy Politics

An inquiry into the killings of Taliban prisoners during the riot at the Qalai Janghi fort was ruled out by the Foreign Office yesterday, despite pressure from Amnesty International and the United Nations.

Mary Robinson, the UN high commissioner for human rights, said many unanswered questions remained about the three days of fighting around the prison complex near Mazar-i-Sharif. The incident left at least 150 Taliban prisoners of war dead at the hands of Northern Alliance troops.

A spokesman for Ms Robinson said the UN was particularly concerned that many of the dead appeared to have been killed even though they were already tied up by Alliance forces.

Amnesty had earlier called for a public inquiry into the "proportionality of the response" by Alliance and coalition forces, which included a US bombing,

But Peter Hain, a Foreign Office minister, dismissed their concerns, saying the battle was an "inevitable" result of Taliban prisoners of war trying to escape. "These people were al-Qa'ida fighters of the most extreme and militant kind, who got hold of weapons and tried to fight their way out. Inevitably there was a reaction and an attempt to control that. We don't need an inquiry," he said.

Two British Muslims were among the hundreds of Taliban fighters killed, according to information supplied by a Northern Alliance soldier yesterday.

They were named as Derby-born Abdul Latif Rahman, aged 26, and Yousef Nasir Khan, 23, originally from London. Details of the two men were discovered in documents found by the Northern Alliance among the debris of a training camp on the outskirts of Kabul.